Inherited mutations of the APC gene predispose carriers to multiple adenomatous polyps of the colon and rectum and to colorectal cancer. Mutations located at the extreme 5' end of the APC gene, however, are associated with a less severe disease known as attenuated adenomatous polyposis coli (AAPC). Many individuals with AAPC develop relatively few colorectal polyps but are still at high risk for colorectal cancer. We report here the identification of a 5' APC germline mutation in five separately ascertained AAPC families from Newfoundland, Canada. This disease-causing mutation is a single basepair change (G to A) in the splice-acceptor region of APC intron 3 that creates a mutant RNA without exon 4 of APC. The observation of the same APC mutation in five families from the same geographic area demonstrates a founder effect. Furthermore, the identification of this germline mutation strengthens the correlation between the 5' location of an APC disease-causing mutation and the attenuated polyposis phenotype.